Last full day and the weather forecast is, again, iffy. But, we’ve got a plan – with Marsha and Nancy, there’s always a plan. We’ve been told by a couple of people that Sorrento has a huge outdoor market, frequented mostly by locals that might be an interesting look into “real” life in the town.
So we packed our umbrellas and walked to the main square. We were told two ways to get to the market, so we chose the longest one (of course). We quickly crossed over the line between the tourist shops into the local shops; pharmacies, supermarkets, gas stations, stationery – heading for the train station where we could make a right and climb to the “nearby” market. A small, inviting church (the order known well by Jeff) allowed us a short rest after going much further than we thought we would in the damp air.
We finally found our way around the train station and climbed steeply on a more “residential” street (after several requests for directions – we were told “5 more minutes” three successive times). We passed some lovely old walls, an ancient, abandoned church, citrus trees in lush local gardens, and the beautiful bark on stands of red “umbrella” pines. Out of breath we finally turned the corner to find…
…the remains of what would have been a great market (we thought). Apparently it was soon to close anyway, and a light rain was starting to fall. We quickly perused a few stands that were not quite packed in; delicious looking olives, some sparse fruit and vegetable tables, and lots of clothing, over-the-counter medicines, cosmetics…and some of the same stuff we find in local places like the Columbus Market in NJ (for those of you who know it).
Oh well. At least it was downhill on the way back. Since we all love scrutinizing local supermarkets we decided to stop on the way back to do just that, and to buy some stuff that we could use for a picnic lunch back at the hotel.
It was a good choice. The weather had lifted so we could spread out our salami, cheese, bread and wine and dig in. It felt really good after our long, long walk to the disappearing market.
Marina Grande Redux
After lunch, Marsha and I decided to complete the Rick Steves walk of old Sorrento we had started the day before yesterday. The finish was just past our hotel, winding down to the Marina Grande (where we had taken the long car ride to the restaurant).
The small stone path (unbelievably shared with vehicles part of the way) wound progressively steeper down hill until we reached this ancient Greek gate that fortified the city of Sorrento, and separated the town from the “marina people” who were more susceptible to rape, pillage and plunder from the Saracens (Turkish pirates).
Just past the gate was a stairway that opened up to the Marina Grande (Sorrento’s “big” small-boat harbor. It really was a different feel from the city above. The little community is still based on fishing, but now, some very nice restaurants help bolster their economy – like the one we ate in the other night. It would have been a lot simpler to have walked to it we discovered. The large photo above shows the final stairway (on the left) coming down from the hotel level on the plateau with the trees.
The way back up was just as interesting with a beautiful mosaic shrine below the arch and a really funky fountain, inlaid with all kinds of ceramic sea icons. A memorable way to finish our exploration of Sorrento and this special part of Italy.
We finished our stay with a wonderful dinner at the best restaurant of the trip – recommended by our stalwart bartender, Giovanni. We had local fish and shellfish, soup and veal…and by far the best pasta bolognese we’ve ever tasted. A leisurely stroll back to the hotel. A good night’s sleep. And, a blessedly uneventful trip back home.
A delicious trip for the palate, for the eyes, and for the soul, with dear, dear friends. So glad you could be with us.
See you in Patagonia (Chile and Argentina) in February.